Big Boy BBQ's head honcho, Lance Rosen, is a big man with a big appetite for slow cooked, high-quality barbequed meats. Inspired by a barbeque-dominated road trip across the US, Rosen returned several times to New York and Kansas City in order to be trained by the best in the business. He brought this knowledge (and an authentic Texas Smoker) back to Melbourne and opened Big Boy BBQ in Caulfield South, the city’s first American barbeque joint.

Big Boy has undergone several transformations over the years. Its current iteration sees the diner open just two days a week. If you visit on Fridays, the menu showcases Big Boy’s signature brisket: pure black, barley-fed Angus slow-cooked over 14 hours. Take it straight-up with a side of vinegar slaw or crunchy fries, or on a burger like the fan-favourite Zee Man: a potato bun stuffed with smoked scamorza, crispy onion strings and the house-made Dorothy’s Dream hot sauce.

On Sundays, Big Boy BBQ becomes Southern Grace Diner, which is when Rosen really turns up the heat. Each week he makes everything – from the mains to the sides and desserts – from scratch. And once something’s sold out, off the menu board it comes, with no guarantee that it’ll be seen again the following week. Rosen recommends the meat-and-three: choose your protein (brisket, southern fried chicken, Texas-style pork ribs, hot links) and crowd with sides like mac’n’cheese, Tex-Mex beans, fries or slaw.

The southern accent doesn’t stop at the food, either. To step inside Rosen’s venue is to step inside a wholesome roadside diner, complete with cow print decals, booth seating, smokehouse paraphernalia, an overarching red, white and blue theme, and – of course – an American flag or two to really drive it all home.

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Updated: April 10th, 2023

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